North Korea’s state-run news agency published sinister warnings of a new war in the Korean peninsula even as South Korean media reported Saturday that Seoul and Washington had reached an agreement on extending the range of South Korean ballistic missiles to counter defense threat from Pyongyang.
The KCNA website showed the warnings across its front page. "Let’s realize the nation’s desire for a great war for national reunification,” the message read.
"We will mercilessly punish aggressors, provokers through national actions,” the message continued. "U.S. imperialists and South Korean Lee Myung Bak regime should not act reckless.”
South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo daily cited an unnamed government official to report an agreement reached by Washington and Seoul on extending the range of the ballistic missiles to 800 kilometers from the current 300 kilometers to cover all of North Korea.
The unnamed government source was quoted as saying that the two sides have also agreed to maintain the payload limit at the current level of 500 kilograms as under an agreement signed in 1979, which was revised in 2001 between the two military allies, Reuters reported.
However, if South Korea settles for a lesser missile range limit of 550 kilometers, it could increase the payload to one ton, the newspaper said.
Yonhap news agency also reported that an agreement had been reached between the two nations.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan told a parliamentary hearing Friday that negotiation with the U.S. over the missile issue had reached the "final stage,” without furnishing further details.
The KCNA warnings of a war and South Korean media reports on a revised defense agreement closely followed North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Pak Kil-yon’s address to the U.N. General Assembly earlier this week lashing out at the U.S. for its “hostile” policy toward Pyongyang that has left the Korean peninsula a “spark” away from a “thermonuclear war.”
"Today, due to the continued U.S. hostile policy towards DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), the vicious cycle of confrontation and aggravation of tensions is an ongoing phenomenon on the Korean peninsula, which has become the world's most dangerous hot spot where a spark of fire could set off a thermonuclear war," Pak said.
A Reuters report citing South Korean government data stated that currently every corner of South Korea as well as U.S. military installations in Japan and Guam are within the range of North Korean missile attacks.
The two Koreas can still be considered at war since the 1950-1953 Korean War ended with an armistice pact, not a peace treaty, Reuters reported.
“No precedent can be found in modem history like the one in which the DPRK and the U.S. remain as warring parties for over 60 years even after the war,” Pak said.
He said North Korea had the right to build nuclear arsenal to defend the “nation’s dignity and sovereignty.”
“The only way to prevent war and ensure lasting peace on the Korean peninsula is to put an end to the U.S. hostile policy towards the DPRK,” he said.
He alleged that the U.S., in an attempt to “eliminate” North Korea, had “already finalized different Korean War scenarios and it is waiting for a chance to implement them.”
However, Pak’s speech and KCNA warnings, ahead of presidential elections in the U.S. and South Korea in November and December respectively, have analysts saying that Pyongyang is trying to get rewarded by creating headaches for both the nations’ leaders during their politically critical periods.